Interview with Kawamoto Yota
2230 Lee Hyn Kyung
On March 23rd, we interviewed Kawamoto Yota(31) who came to GAFL as a teacher for Japanese conversation. Maybe it is because he's young, or because he is new, but he certainly is popular among GAFLians. With anticipation, we visited his office in Global Hall to meet him.
Interviewer : What is your hobby and talent?
Kawamoto Yota (K): I don't have much...
I: Oh, please~
K: I think my talent(?) is sleeping.
I: Then, do you have your hobby?
K: I like to eat, especially delicious bread. Oh, and I can draw Shinchan fast. (He even showed a simple magic. Amazing!)
I: What is your favorite food?
K: 순대국 is my favorite Korean food, whereas 샤브샤브 is my Japanese favorite. But recently it occurred to me that favorites don't necessarily have to be expensive foods. So now I like eating cheap foods like Miso soup or 오니기리.
I: Can't you eat them in Korea as well?
K: It's slightly different. Especially Miso soup. It tastes quite different from that of Japanese. I miss the Japanese version.
I: What was something too 'Korean' that you found hard to understand as a foreigner?
K: I was surprised to see Koreans sit on the floor to read in the bookstore. In Japan, we usually sit on the chair or stand up to read. But now, I grew accustomed to sitting on the floor.
I: Who's your favorite K-pop star?
K: I like KARA. 한승연 seems to be a good person.
I: What do you think is the best tourist attraction in Japan?
K: Okinawa. It's a unique place to visit because the original culture of Okinawa is mixed with bits of America though Okinawa is in Japan. Also, even if you have never been to Southeast Asia, you can still experience the boiling temperature, which is a good news for hot-place lovers like me. Last but not least, Okinawa has the sea of deep bluish-emerald green hue. It is absolutely fabulous.
I: This question might be an unexpected one. Please answer this in Korean. What do you usually teach in the Conversation class?
K: (In Korean) The main focus for 1st graders is to acquaint themselves with 히라가나 and 카타카나. 2nd graders, as they have learned grammar, practice expressing their ideas considering the grammatical points they learned.
I: Why did you become a Japanese teacher?
K: In my high school days, I wanted to become an interpreter because I liked English. At that time, I didn't know any Korean, not even ‘안녕하세요’. I first learned Korean as an undergraduate, and I found it very interesting. So I studied Korean in graduate school to become an interpreter. I came to Korea later and started to teach Japanese in private academies, which was when I began to enjoy teaching. I participated actively in work involving Japanese recording. Also, I once was a radio actor in EBS. After working as such in Korea from 2008, I came to GAFL.
I: Are there students who cause trouble during the class?
K: Yes, there are. But it's not that I don't like them, I just think they do not know. I want to believe these students are not bad. To tell the truth, there are no bad kids. I think they are all fine. They behave such because they don't know.
I: Have you ever gotten angry during the class?
K: Yes. My principle is that one should never do things that are impertinent to others. When students eat snacks or say 'Class is too sleepy', I consider these behaviors rude and scold them. Studying can never be the reason, since how well a student performs doesn't really matter. The point is that rude behavior is unacceptable.
I: What do you think are the differences between Korea and Japan?
K: I think the biggest difference is friendship. In Korea, you become like brothers and sisters between close friends, whereas in Japan there should be courtesy even among intimate friends. You should have space between friends and because of that, friends don't become as close as Koreans do.
I: Then the Japanese never say bad words to others?
K: They do, but that's quite rare. We usually suppress the temptation to swear.
I: Was there anything you found surprising about Korea?
K: I was surprised to see that Koreans were very tall. I really was. The majority of women are taller than me. I'm about average height in Japan but small in Korea.
I: What is your educational aspiration?
K: I want to make students polite. I think that's the most important aspect. People without politeness don't stand a chance when out in the society, even if they are smart and brilliant in English, or in Japanese. Those who are polite have many advantages when they grow up. I want my students be one of them and I want them to challenge anything when they become adults. I don't want them to think 'I can't do it.' but rather to think such as 'I shall study more' or 'Even though I'm not cheerful, I shall make more friends' or 'I shall pluck up courage and try to talk with everyone'. I hope they would challenge like that. I want to educate those kinds of students.
I: Where do you want to go with GAFLians?
K: I want to go to Japan with them. Especially Okinawa, because I want to introduce many delicious foods and show them around beautiful places.
I: Are there any extra-delicious foods in your homeland, Fukuoka?
K: Yes, like '돈코츠 ramen', 명란젓, and cakes.
I: Have you ever had a dispute between Korean friends about historical or ethnic problems?
K: No. But I do have a related experience. I was talking with my Japanese friend in the subway when an old man said 'Our grand-father was killed by the Japanese. Say sorry.' But I had nothing to say. Between countries, there are unavoidable disputes as long as national interests are involved. The best thing we, the citizens, can do is to get along. High school students learning history might wonder of what use it is, but learning something changes your thoughts. Studying will present you with many opportunities but you won't even get to know the existence of these opportunities if you don't study. Thus, it is better to be educated, though studying wouldn't be easy.
When you get into university, you'll realize there are many people with various perspectives. There may be people who have lived abroad, for instance the USA, or there may even be soccer representatives. They all think different. It's so fun. University, where you go after high school, is not simply a place for academics but a place to know people's diverse thoughts.